Dropsy and Vinegar Eels

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:26 am by livefood

Subject: Questions about Vinegar Eels


I live in the UK. I knew nothing about vinegar eels until today. I think I have a fish with dropsy. Are vinegar eels good for health problems and can you use apple cider vinegar as a tonic for fish? I have loads of organic ACV as I take it myself.

I would be grateful for any information you can offer.

Many thanks




No is the answer to both of the questions. Vinegar Eels do nothing to help a fish other than nutritionally…and then only for very small fish (less than an inch, and usually less than ¼ inch). If fish were to be placed in ACV, the highly acidic environment of ACV would kill fish in short order.

Dropsy is nearly always fatal. Very little is really known about the actual mechanism of dropsy, but it is known that it is a symptom and not actually a cause. So trying to treat it is like trying to apply an aloe product on a red mark on your skin without knowing what caused the problem…it may work and it may not. Not too long ago the San Francisco Aquarium Society invited a local PhD to speak too the group about diseases and dropsy was one of the topics…she is a leading expert and actually performs surgery on larger fish…part or all of the solution she offered to nearly every question was to keep a clean environment and reduce the stress to the fish…after her lecture I went back to my hatchery and examined all my procedures to focus on good health maintenance and preventative care (mostly frequent and very regular water changes) and since then have even been able to get rid of all medication in the shop.

Good luck,

The Bug Farm




Posted in Uncategorized at 8:31 am by livefood

Subject: Question about Redworms

I have 4 large, 7-10in and growing quickly, spiny eels and am looking for a food culture that can support their huge eating habits. Their going through frozen bloodworms like crazy and its getting pretty expensive. I am seriously thinking of buying a redworm culture, but I have a couple questions.
1) How fast does a culture of redworms multiply?
2) How big do they normally get?
The redworms double the size of the culture every two months under “ideal” conditions. It’s a little slower in the winter and if it’s too hot in the summer. We keep our outside year round and see a little fluctuation in production but not too much. The key to “ideal” is moisture content and food. They eat like crazy when the colony is doing well and if they don’t get fed, well…they don’t grow NOR do they multiply.
They get to about 2 1/2 inches…they are hatched at more like 1/8th of an inch. A healthy colony (and the starters from us) are a mixture of sizes. For our own purposes we harvest the net fully grown ones and let the big ones continue to lay eggs.
If you feed each of the fish 3-4 worms every other day and started a colony of worms today, providing pretty good conditions, you would need about a pound of worms/culture to get you going…by the time you remove some for the feeding, they get settled in and multiply and some die in shipping you would (or should be) self sustaining in about 90ish days. In other words you should be able to harvest those 3-4 every other day “forever.”
Let us know how we can help you.
Take care,
The Bug Farm


Daphnia Question

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:11 am by livefood

Subject: RE: question

Hi Jim

Thanks for the answer. Want to ask you questions on Daphnia culture.

Can a culture stay viable indefinitely for up to 3 mos without anyone to care for on just green water alone.
I go out of the country anywhere from 1 to 3 mos and was thinking of leaving them in my outdoor 55 gallon plastic drums where in the winter it can get to 40 degree F and 90 degree F in the summer. The barrel will get full sun exposure long as the day allows.
Can the culture kills itself by depleting the green water? Or can the culture be self-sustaining from the daphnia explosion then a minor die off from overpopulation resulting in more pollution hence green water and the culture just recycle itself over and over from the daphnia that are still alive???

If the above scenario is not possible what other live food culture do you suggest more appropriate for my situation?





The scenario you outline “sort of” works. The problem you would run into is that you do no include water changes in the outline. Like all aquatic critters, the nitrite/nitrate levels will catch up with the population sooner than later (in this case later…but will still catch up).

In a natural setting, you scenario is pretty much what happens BUT the water will frequently dry up OR when the nitrate levels get too high the population crashes. The water will either come back or the quality improve through the addition of rain (usually). This accounts for the tremendous Springtime blooms of daphnia following the algae and the mid-summer crashes as the algae and daphnia suffer through the declining water quality.

Also, the daphnia are a livebearing creature when conditions are ideal and switch to an egg laying colony when the conditions decline. The eggs stay viable through the bad conditions and hatch when conditions are once again ideal.

We use a system of barrels for our production. One set of barrels housed a colony of goldfish. We fed the goldfish and they produced excellent greenwater for us.

A second set of barrels (smaller, but the size doesn’t matter too much unless they are too small…ours were 24 gallons) housed the daphnia colonies.

A 50 gallons of greenwater more-or-less supported a 24 gallon culture of daphnia with a minimum amount of boom-bust cycling.

While it was helpful to feed the goldfish every day, we have gone extended periods (6 weeks) without feeding and didn’t loose any fish. We had 16 barrels with 5-6 fish in each and were gone for that 6 week period numerous times…never a problem.

We installed a spigot on the bottom of the daphnia tanks and harvest the daphnia by holding a fish net under the spigot and catching them as the water from their tub flowed out.

We fed the daphnia from the goldfish greenwater by taking a bucket full of greenwater and pouring it into the daphnia tub. We then backfilled the goldfish/greenwater barrels with fresh water (we never bothered to declor that water…never had a problem).

With this system, the daphnia and the goldfish received water changes…the daphnia were fed everyday when we needed a lot of food and less when we didn’t. The system crashed occasionally but it was usually related to something odd occurring…and not related to the methodology of the system.

I would think that if you left a very healthy culture which had been recently fed, you would find some daphnia in the system when you came back after 3 months…the water would need to be changed and they would need to be fed, but the colony should rebound and be harvestable in a few weeks or so.

Where do you live, the temperatures you mention sound just about like ours.

Take care,
The Bug Farm



Feeding Redworms

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:05 am by livefood

Subject: Earthworms

Jim: My white worms are doing just fine. I am also keeping some earthworms inside for my garter snake. Do you know what I should be feeding earthworms?
Have a good day!


It sort of matters as to which species of worm you are dealing with. However, I’m going to assume you have little red wrigglers (sometimes referred to as mini-redworms, but they are not very “mini”). Most worms will eat the same sorts of food, but the difference may be in the way you feed them. The redworm eat just below the garbage you feed them. You do not have to bury the food (although it helps to decompose the material more quickly). They tend to live near the surface (the top several inches) and will eat any organic gardenie matter (not meat, fish, dairy products). They will also eat moistened grains (oatmeal, rice, etc)…love breads (not sourdough). You can also feed them specifically designed worm food (we carry it but are currently out of stock).
So the easy way is to either feed them the breads and kitchen waste or the commercial worm diet. We do a combination of all of the above.Take care,

The Bug Farm



Microworm Scum

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:57 am by livefood

Subject: Questions about Microworms

I have recently developed problems with my microworm jars as they developed a cloudy film on the surface that I can not get rid of. I have restarted many times after steralizing the container ,to no avail. I assume it is a yeast or mould ?? It happens with or without brewers yeast that I have added

I look forward to your response



That scum that you see is very common and does not really effect the culture much. It’s a bacteria. You can not really control it. We have had it show up with just about every media we have tried and now just don’t even try to figure out solutions (no harm no foul).

Sterilizing the container does no good. I have always felt that it was introduced via air, but have not evidence to for that conclusion…but when you have tried just about everything else what else can be blamed. Insurance companies called these sorts of events an “act of God.”

While we have never had a culture crash with this bacteria scum on the surface we also always have had multiple cultures as backup.

Take care,

The Bug Farm




Posted in Uncategorized at 11:12 am by livefood

Subject: Questions about Whiteworms


I have been culturing grindal worms with great success for several months now but I am finding that they are too small for the adult fish I am feeding (tetras and barbs). I want to give white worms a shot as I understand they are the next size up.

My question is I have read that white worms require lower temps than grindals, between 55-68F. The space I have available is 72-75F and I am concerned that the worms may not fare so well. I have even read from several sources that the worms may even die above 72F.

I would appeciate your opinions and experiences with white worm and their temperature requirements.





The worms might not perish at say “73” but you will not find them multiplying much if the temp is over 65 or so. The refer is too cold and if you rig a refer with a new thermostat (from a beer making venture perhaps) you will burn up the compressor on the refer. It’s really not worth it.

However, we live in California and it gets pretty warm for long periods of time. We don’t see the 100s very often, but definitely into the 90 for extended periods. So what we do is…we culture the worms in Styrofoam fish boxes. We keep the lid on. The culture stays moist and dark and the worms love that. We put two 1 liter bottles of water into the freezer. When the weather climbs to the point where the temp inside the coolers is above 70, we take a water bottle out and put it into the culture. In a couple of days (depending on the temps) we exchange that now melted bottle with the other frozen one. The first bottle is now freezing…the second one cooling the culture. When the temps get really hot, we exchange the bottles every day.

In order to help ourselves a bit, we keep the cultures on the floor of the garage. The floor is the coolest place in the home.

This system has never failed us…every with the temp was over 100 for 10 days or so. My family didn’t do as well as the worms.

Take care,
The Bug Farm



Sponge Filters and Betta Fry

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:24 am by livefood

Subject: hay jim do you have to use a sponge filter for betta fry

hay jim do you have to use a sponge filter for betta fry i read on your website that you use java moss to get infusoria for the fry but do you have to use a sponge filter for betta fry or you dont have to because sponge filter create to much turbulance anf force co2 out of your tank not good for plant but no sponge filter no water turbulance on surface and water tension to high kill all your fry what is the best setup to raise betta fry and grow plant at the same time. - Ha



We always use a small sponge filter, but it is only with an extremely slow stream of bubbles. So slow that the water surface on the other end of the 10 gallon tank is not disturbed. The plants would be fine without the filter and the loss of CO2 is easily made up with a small amount of light. The reason for both the plants and the filter started with the concept of improving water quality for the fry. The side effect of both has been the infusorian sources for the fry. The filter needs to have air moving through it to keep the bacteria (those for both converting nitrites and ammonia) alive.

CO2 and O2 can both reach 100% saturation in the same aquarium setup. The two are not mutually exclusive…so a tank can have a high percentage of oxygen for the fish and a high percentage of CO2 for the plants. Any excess is loss through the surface. It is not possible (in an aquarium setting) to have “too much” of either gas.

The challenge with most plants is their need for a carbon source. Normally that is light. Some plants can do very well with less light, hence our choice of Java Moss. Most of the moss-like plants do fairly well to good in less intensive light environments. Anubias in generally are the same way. In high CO2 environments, more light is generally needed, so your plant choice can change, but then you are probably going to want to increase the amount of light. We have always felt that Bettas do better in moderate light situations and and not particularly “happy” in the bright lights of a intensive light setup…and that is why we decided to use J-moss…low light, lots of places for fish and fry to hide…covered with infusoria…it seemed to be a good choice (and still does).

Hope this helps a bit.

Take care,

The Bug Farm



Flour Beetles

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:33 am by livefood

From: G.
Subject: Confused Flour Beetles

Does the flour beetle culture need to be bought or do they invite themselves into the flour?
Apologies for the stupidity -__-’ I’m.. confused ! - G.



They are a pest. They will find their way into your flour, grains and cereals (personal experiences included!). You may actually purchase flour and grains from the store and have them “pop up” in a sealed container. However, that said…you may not either. The numbers of beetles needed for a sustainable culture are pretty dense. If you have some in your pantry you will be panicking having seen only a few. You would want to see hundreds in a culture before you harvest from it. Cultures of beetles are the best way (and quickest to the harvest) to start a culture.

You would not need to purchase a “starter” culture of the beetles, but it would be a faster path to a larger and sustainable culture. You might have better luck finding them in flour from organic sources.

But these beetles are a pest, costing agriculture BIG bucks each year. You would not want to keep them uncovered. We used to keep the culture containers inside of tubes made from nylon stocking legs.

Take care,
The Bug Farm



Indoor Daphnia Cultures

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:24 am by livefood

To: questions@livefoodcultures.com
Subject: Questions about Microworms

Is it possible to culture daphnia in side the house ? How.





It is possible. The quantities would be smaller and therefore the work per unit would be greater, but it is possible. You could use any container that you might use out side, but we tend to think that a 5 gallon bucket is the smallest that makes any sort of sense for production. Light and light cycles play a role in daphnia production. No light, no production…too much light does not do any additional good over “the right amount of light.” I would look for a bulb that was daylight corrected. Now days I would look for a compact unit as you would want to burn the bulb about 10-12 hours a day as if the sun was shining. Food is the same pallet of choices that you would consider out of doors. If you can culture green water that would be the preferred food. We used Gerber’s Baby Food (particularly sweet potato and/or peas) with fair results (a little goes a long way)…also “Liquifry” for either egg layers or liverbearers worked fine (again, a little goes a long way).

The biggest challenge will be the water changes that you will need to do to keep conditions ideal for the daphnia. They do very well in fresh water that is low in nitrates and high in greenwater…think first burst of sun after the pond fills up…greenwater bloom, followed by daphnia…the water gets funky, the daphnia die back. If you don’t keep the water quality up, the daphnia will start to lay eggs and your colony will go more-or-less dormant.

So if you can figure a system that solves all of these issues and can scale the production for your space you will be successful.

Take care,
The Bug Farm



Spingtails in My Home

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:20 pm by livefood

To: questions@livefoodcultures.com
Subject: Questions about Springtails

We have a infestation of springtails in our home. They are crawling on the
ceilings in our bedrooms and throughout the home. We also have had Orkin
come once a month to spray the home. We don’t know how to get rid of these
critters. Do you have any suggestions? Sanjana



Springtails are only motivated by very basic needs. If you remove any of those needs they either leave the area or die.

Moisture…they are a primary component in most area in the decomp of vegetation. They are great in compost piles and old lawns where there is a fairly constant temperature and usually humid or moist.

Food…They only eat vegetable matter. In the wild hey will look for food in areas that have same…dead (not live) plants or other organics. We used to feed them oatmeal…but dry oatmeal would be hard for them to eat…it would have to be moist.

Temperature…they do best when the weather is about 75-80. If it gets too cold they die back and/or burrow deeper. If it gets too hot (summer time around here) the same thing happens..they die back and or burrow deeper.

Typically you would find them in a houseplant or around a house plant…if you found them indoors at all. They are sort of difficult to cultivate because they need to be feed frequently and the moisture/temperatures need to be right. They can be found in the thatch of the lawn (almost any lawn anywhere)…old forest floors around the world.

You need to inventory your situation. Why do you have them and what can you do to change the environment so that they can’t be happy there. A dehumidifier maybe, move the houseplants if you have a lot of them. Remove cat and dog feeding stations.

Have these critters been positively identified as Springtails? If they have not been positively IDed, you might jar a few and take them to the local AD Extension folks for that ID.

Spraying for them won’t help much…very temporary IF it helps at all. They are a naturally occurring “pest”…that don’t bite or transmit any know diseases. They can be a nuisance but usually it’s very temporary (I’ve never heard of situation that was more than a change of seasons long. You can not kill all of them in the area…they will return if you don’t find the reason that decided that your home was “cool.”

The best practice is find the environmental cause of the bloom and change the environment to un-suit them.

Good luck,
The Bug Farm


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